Markel Brown was never given a legitimate chance to prove himself under Lionel Hollins this year. For a 24-year-old in his second NBA season, sitting on the bench can be a tough thing to fathom. Brown was admittedly frustrated at times, but he made it through the dog days of a terrible season and he has found himself a spot in the rotation under interim coach Tony Brown.
Brown, who played in a total of 19 minutes during Hollins last 11 games as coach, started and played in 28 minutes alone in Brooklyn's loss to the 76ers on Friday night. A month ago, Brown spoke to Brian Lewis about his frustration in lack of playing time during the Hollins era. "It's very frustrating, especially watching from the sideline and in your mind you're thinking, ‘Dang, if I'm out there I could probably help the team do this and do that," Brown said. It got so bad Brown was on the trading block.
However, with added minutes, his confidence has increased. Earlier this week, after practice, Brown told told the Nets media that 50 percent of the time he shoots he feels the ball is going to go in.
#Nets Markel Brown on his confidence in his shot: "I feel like every shot I shoot is going to go in – at least 50 percent of the time"— Fred Kerber (@FredKerber) March 7, 2016
In eight games since Joe Johnson was bought out, he's averaging 10.4 points, while shooting 42 percent from the field and 45 percent from three-point territory in 24 minutes per game. Brown started in 29 games last season, mainly due to his defensive prowess and his athleticism, but this season, Hollins chose to ignore him. In recent weeks, his offensive game has dramatically improved, which is a testament to the hard work he put in ... and Tony Brown's confidence in him. Brown's sweet spot has been the three-point shot from the right corner this season, where he's shooting at 63 percent (7-of-11) from the right corner. In 11 attempts from the same zone last year, he did not make a single attempt.
His work-ethic and determination ultimately impressed his coach. Like his predecessor, Tony Brown didn't give Markel a lot of minutes. But the coach understood his work ethic, that he'd never stopped working on improving his game. "He's been working his tail off. Obviously, there were [times] when he wasn't getting any playing time, but he continued to come in early, work on his game. I'm sure it was frustrating for him not getting to play, but he kept himself ready, and after he got the opportunity, took advantage," Coach Brown told Kerber.
Brown has become a productive rotation player for Brooklyn. The 24 year-old credits "timing, confidence and staying in the gym" for his recent success. But in large part, it was about a change in coaches.